From mint chocolate and pumpkin spice flavors in the winter to fruit-forward options in warmer months, desserts on menus often incorporate seasonal flavors to increase appeal and encourage trial. And that’s for good reason: According to Technomic’s 2019 Dessert Consumer Trend Report, 63% of consumers say their dessert preferences tend to change depending on the season or time of year.
For foodservice operators considering seasonal options, striking a balance between items that are indulgent and delicious with better-for-you options can be challenging. Here are some tips to find that balance.
Pair indulgent ingredients with lighter seasonal flavors
Incorporating springtime seasonal flavors and produce, such as strawberry, rhubarb and cherry, into desserts that also feature delicious chocolate is an easy way to elevate the appeal of seasonal desserts. Technomic data indicates that diners really love chocolate—favorite desserts include brownies, fudge, chocolate ice cream, chocolate cream pie, chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies. And yet, they’d also like to see more fresh fruit desserts. Combining the two satisfies both desires.
At Max Brenner, for instance, a casual dining restaurant with locations in Boston, New York City and Philadelphia, diners can enjoy Key Lime Pie in a Jar, made with a graham cracker crust, white chocolate ganache and Key lime mousse.
Consumers also say recognizable brands are important to them, with more than half (59%) telling Technomic they like to purchase desserts made with name-brand ingredients. Such brands, which are considered indulgent but trustworthy, tend to interest younger consumers more than older ones.
Adding dessert options that include branded ingredients, such as M&M’S® Chocolate Candies, can increase the appeal of new desserts. For instance, try offering Peanut Butter Brownies made with M&M’S® Pastel Peanut Chocolate Candies and Dove® Dark Chocolate—a familiar flavor profile, featuring diners’ favorite brand-name ingredients and pastel colors that are perfect for springtime.
Smaller portions and tasting flights
Finally, consider menuing smaller portions, such as shareable flights or dessert “shooters,” for diners who are hungering for dessert but committed to better-for-you options. Such offerings are easily adaptable to include seasonal flavors, as well as branded ingredients.
Seasons 52, for example, offers Mini Indulgences— small portions of desserts such as Key Lime Pie, Peanut Butter Torte, Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cannoli and Caramel Pineapple Upside-Down Cake—so diners can indulge without abandoning their diets. In noncommercial foodservice, this format is even easier to execute—and can be offered in grab-and-go formats.
To keep diners interested in dessert, operators should consider incorporating seasonal flavors and branded ingredients, as well as cutting back on portion sizes. Learn how chefs are persuading their guests to say “yes” to dessert—and drive incremental sales in the process.
This post is sponsored by Mars Foodservices